INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Ed Carpenter turned the fastest practice lap since 2003, as rain-shortened "Fast Friday" preparations for the 98th running of the Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Carpenter's lap of 230.522 mph, turned less than 15 minutes into the abbreviated "Fast Friday" session set the tone for a run at a 230 mph four-lap average speed in the May 17-18 qualifications. The last driver to top 230 mph in a practice session was Scott Dixon, who recorded a lap at more than 233 mph in the pre-Pole Day session in 2003.
"The car is definitely up to speed this year," Carpenter said. "When it comes to predicting the pole, I think a lot of it will be figuring out what the weather is. If it warms up enough and the air gets a little thinner, certainly I think 230s are realistic, even up to 232 and 233."
The session was halted after 19 minutes because of rain. The first round of qualifications will take place from 11 a.m.-5:50 p.m. (ET), with the 33 starting positions, including the Verizon P1 Award, determined May 18.
Four different teams were represented in the top five, seven entries posted a lap speed above 229 mph, and 10 more bettered the month's previous best of 227.166 mph set a day earlier by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Chevrolet.
Castroneves was second fast (229.843 mph) in the session. Marco Andretti was third (229.419) in the No. 25 Snapple Honda for Andretti Autosport, while Carpenter's teammate, JR Hildebrand, was fourth (229.384) in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet and Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing was fifth (229.276).
Carpenter earned the Verizon P1 Award last May with a four-lap average speed of 228.762 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car with a top speed of 229.347 mph on Lap 1. It was the best four-lap average since 2006 when Sam Hornish, Jr. won the pole with a four-lap average of 228.985 mph.
WDUN will have live coverage of the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.